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date: 21 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Dōgen Kigen (1200–1253) was the founder of the Sōtō school of Japanese Zen Buddhism, and he is widely held to be the most significant philosopher in the Zen tradition. The kernel of his thought is expressed in his most famous text, Genjōkōan, rendered here as “The Presencing of Truth.” This chapter explicates the key ideas of this text, offering in particular an interpretation of its epistemological implications. It argues that Dōgen’s view of enlightenment as an ongoing practice of enlightening, as an unending path of discovery, implies an egoless perspectivism. It is a perspectivism insofar as reality is understood to only ever show itself one aspect at a time. In delusion, this perspective gets narrowly determined by the will of the ego. In the practice of enlightenment or enlightening, however, the self “forgets itself” in the “total exertion” of a participatory engagement in the world, and truth presences in and through such nondual events of interconnectivity.

Keywords: Dōgen, Zen Buddhism, Genjō kōan, perspectivism, epistemology

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